Upper and Lower Back Bumps Causes: Red Itchy and Treatments 

Getting bumps on your back is frustrating but can be a problem for anyone. What do bumps on your back signify? It could be a rash or reaction to certain medicines or infection symptom.

Causes of bumps on the back and treatments

Read on to find the common infections and conditions that cause bumps on your back (including those signifying the skin rashes or a back rash).

1.  Keratosis pilaris

Do you complain of a sandpapery texture or feeling on your upper back whenever you touch there? Well, that can be KP.

Keratosis pilaris is a harmless skin condition caused by plugged hair follicles. If your skin produces more keratin than it is required it will end up plugging the hair follicles.

Bumps due to Keratosis pilaris are usually white but may appear reddish. The bumps are found evenly spread on the skin area where they have formed.

It is common on upper arms, fronts of thighs, on buttocks and cheeks but can also occur in the upper back areas. Individuals who have a family history of KP are likely to get it. Ichthyosis Vulgaris is another risk factor.

How is KP managed?

Since there is no treatment for Keratosis pilaris, individuals need to regularly keep their bodies clean and moisturize skin. The use of products with urea is quite helpful.

Other optional ways of managing KP include

  • Gentle exfoliation
  • Prescription retinoid medicines
  • Prescription alpha-hydroxyls
  • Corticosteroid creams

NOTE: It is always safer to consult your physician before you apply any of the products outlined above.

2. Chickenpox or shingles

This is a viral infection that is very contagious. Varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox. Anyone can catch chickenpox if they did not get the vaccine at childhood. Children who get infected experience symptoms such as:

Fever, headache, loss of appetite and looking tired.

1 or 2 days later on, a rash (that turns into fluid-filled blisters) develops starting from the face to the stomach, arms, and back. The rash is normally itchy and spreads almost all parts of the body.

Chickenpox vaccines and prevention methods are the best ways to deal or avoid an infection. The cases of chickenpox have been reduced over the past years through vaccination programs.

3. Pseudomonas folliculitis

This type of folliculitis causes inflammation of the follicles. A bacterium Pseudomonas is responsible for inflammation of the hair follicles.

You can get exposed to the bacteria if you love swimming or staying in poorly treated pools or hot tubs. The bumps are usually described as itchy red to pink pus filled. Other signs may include

  • Mild fever or a headache
  • A sore throat
  • Swollen or tender armpit (lymph nodes)
  • Fatigue
  • itching

Pseudomonas folliculitis is common on the upper and lower back, armpits, legs, and arms.


See your doctor who will prescribe medicines if the symptoms like sore throat, fever or itching does not stop within or after 2 weeks.

If not treated, your skin develops temporary pigmentation problems.

4. Back acne

Acne on the back is common since this area has sebaceous glands but that is not the real cause of acne. Back acne is due to an overproduction of sebum which is natural body oil secreted by overactive sebaceous glands. Other factors that contribute to acne breakout include overgrowth of P. acnes, hormones (acne vulgaris), clogging of glands or blocked hair follicles.

Symptoms of back acne

Symptoms can vary with severity. The following are the symptoms of acne.

  • Blackheads (open comedone)
  • Papules and pustules
  • Nodules and cysts
  • Inflamed pimples


Getting rid of acne is trick especially if it is characteristic bump formation is severe. However, mild acne (acne vulgaris) can be treated with over the counter acne products including medicines and washes. These include benzoyl peroxide, antibacterial soaps, and glycolic acid.

Other remedies to observe while treating acne on back includes gentle exfoliation, use of gentle or non-chemical soaps, avoid makeup or lotions that could lead to clogging of pores. Anyone prone to acne pimples should not try to pick prick or do popping.

For severe acne symptoms like pustules, it is recommended that you see your dermatologist for other therapy treatments which comprise a prescription medication, hormonal therapy, contraception pills and antibiotic medication to avoid infections.

5. Dermatitis herpetiformis

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, dermatitis herpetiformis or DH is a skin manifestation of celiac disease. Its symptoms include mainly blister bumps, intense itching, and burning sensation.

Jon Zone MD, of Celiac Disease Foundation notes that, when you consume gluten, your intestine responds by producing a type of antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA). Although patients have no gut or digestive problems, gluten ingestion is what is thought to trigger the reaction.

Treatment for DH

Prior to treatment, DH patients need tests. Treatment would be preferred by your dermatologist depending on your tolerance by the body to medicines prescription. Prescription medications are meant to reduce itching.

Other than medicines, your doctor may restrict you be on a gluten-free diet to prevent further symptoms.

6. Scabies

Scabies is a skin rash due to itch MITE infestation. Scabies rash is typical of itching on hands, arms, beltline, around nipples. Mite bites can cause little hive-like bumps (the rash) that form with a linear pattern.

If individuals continue to scratch sores will develop. Sometimes scaly skin that resembles eczema patches.

In babies, scabies can make them be irritable and refuse to eat or sleep due to bad itching at night. If infestation level goes up the rash will spread all over the body including the back and itching intensity will shoot up.

Treatment of scabies

Treatment is mandatory to get rid of the bumps, and stop itching or scabbing. Most treatments are on prescription medicines after a physical examination. According to American Academy of Dermatology, common prescription creams are applied at bedtime. They include

  • Permethrin Cream 5%
  • Benzyl Benzoate Lotion.
  • Sulfur Ointment.
  • Crotamiton Cream.
  • Lindane Lotion.

Since these are prescription medicines all instructions must be adhered to in order to get rid of the mites and avoid further symptoms such as worsening itching.

7. Other causes

Here are more causes or factors for the appearance of the raised spots and growths on the back.

  • Hormonal or typical pimples and boils
  • Cystic acne
  • Cherry hemangioma
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Measles rash

Red bumps on the back

Red bumps on lower or upper back regardless of the symptoms accompanied rash on chest and back can be common if it is a rash. Small red spots or bumps can indicate a back rash. Viral rashes are common in both children and adults and do create the an-all-over-the-body effect.

Common causes of red bumps on the back include

  • Inflamed acne pimples
  • Folliculitis
  • Chickenpox
  • Celiac disease

Keep in mind that irritation can trigger or lead to redness especially by picking or scratching the pimples or conditions like acne.

Itchy red ones

Itchy red bumps on the skin can be characteristic of a rash. The bumps can be small or enlarged or become swollen if triggered or infected. Possible causes of red itchy bumps include pseudomonas folliculitis, chickenpox, and measles. However, not all rashes with redness can cause itching.

In that case, KP is a probable reason for red or white small bumps especially on your upper back nearer the shoulders.

When you must urgently seek medical help

If you get huge lumps on back or swelling that come sudden or after few hours see your doctor or dermatologist. Secondly, if you suspect a victim with serious allergic reaction symptoms immediately dial an emergency number in your country to help save lives.

Our Reference
  1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/keratosis-pilaris/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313084.php
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070916/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/chickenpox.html
  5. https://www.drugs.com/health-guide/dermatofibroma.html